County Commission holds “health and safety” emergency meeting

MOBILE, Ala. – A fire this weekend didn’t prevent Government Plaza from opening for business Monday, but it hasn’t been easy for some of the people who work and visit the complex.

The Mobile County Commission held an emergency meeting this morning to deal with what the county calls a health and safety concern. That was welcomed news for the people who work here.

Assistant District Attorney Debra Tillman made a quick stop in her 7th floor office to pick up some papers this morning. She said she hasn’t been able to work here since the weekend fire.

“I decided that pretty much on Monday when I walked in a smelled the smoke. Then I came to the 5th floor and brought my computer and began to work,” Tillman said.

Tillman said three members of the District Attorney’s staff became ill because of the smoke.

“We did have some folks who showed up on Monday and thought that they could not work in this environment and took a sick day and went home,” Tillman said.

Most of the D.A.’s staff has moved to other areas of the building.

Thousands of people visit Government Plaza every day. Many may not realize they’re exposed to the faint smell of smoke from the fire.

But, County Commissioner Jerry Carl said it is definitely a health concern.

“We had fire that washed down the elevator shaft, it got in the air conditioning ducts, it got into the ceiling tiles. It got into a lot of places you really don’t think about. And you can still smell it. And it’s just not real comfortable work environment,” Carl said.

The county commission held an emergency meeting Wednesday to address the situation. The commissioners voted to rent 23 air purifiers for up to 30 days.

The machines have been running non stop since the weekend, but it could take a few more weeks to completely get rid of the smoke.

The total cost of the machines is nearly six thousand dollars a day.

Commissioner Merceria Ludgood says as the air continues to clear, the county will cut back on the purifiers.

“This is going to be an expensive proposition and we just want make sure that we’re doing it well. That we’re being efficient in how we do this while at the same time making sure that everyone is comfortable in their work environment,” Ludgood said.

The money for those purifiers would initially be paid by the county, which would be reimbursed by the county’s insurance company at a later date. Ultimately, the commissioners said the roofing contractor’s insurance would foot the bill.

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